USAG Hawaii sets its way ahead
March 3, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - A significant change to how barracks are managed, a garrison university and, perhaps, blogs are some of the innovative goals planned for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) in the coming months.
Soldiers and civilian personnel who work for USAG-HI learned what goals and objectives the garrison hopes to achieve in fiscal years 2009-2010 during recent Employee Workforce Town Hall meetings at Schofield Barracks, Fort Shafter and the Pohakuloa Training Area.
According to the garrison commander, Col. Matthew Margotta, the initiatives were examined by USAG-HI directorates and discussed at a garrison off-site meeting to achieve "buy-in."
"Our goals and objectives define what we want to accomplish as a team or an installation over the next two years," Margotta said. "After I was here the first couple months, we established our vision. Then, it was a top-down driven approach to identify specific objectives; this time it's a different approach."
This time, Margotta solicited feedback from his commanders and directorates. They told him what direction they wanted to go and what issues they wanted their organizations to take on. Then, overall goals and objectives were further massaged, refined and finalized.
Five key areas, each containing many subareas, were addressed: high-quality customer service, the housing experience for families and single Soldiers, two-way communication, support for Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) and caring for the workforce.
"I'm trying to establish some long-term systems and a mindset in garrison employees that will last beyond my tenure (in summer 2010)," Margotta explained.
<b>High-quality customer service</b>
Similar to the customer service model of the Walt Disney Company, directorates have established a "contract" for every employee, supervisor, division chief and commander to place added emphasis and effort in customer service. As a core function of the garrison, a customer service objective will be added to every employee's performance appraisal; its mandates are be professional, be polite and be positive.
"I don't care where you work ... you can somehow tie what you do at your level to support for Soldiers and families. You've got to do what you do with customer service in mind," Margotta said. "The best part about high-quality customer service is, it doesn't cost anything ... it doesn't cost anything to smile; it doesn't cost anything to try your best."
In the future, all garrison employees will receive customer service training, and USAG-HI's new employee orientation - new itself, since Feb. 18 - will also include the training.
Commanders, directors, office chiefs and supervisors must build a culture within their environment that not only stresses quality customer support, but also sets standards - ones that develop an employee's sense of ownership in his or her facility and its appearance, cleanliness, layout and functions.
<b>The housing experience</b>
For USAG-HI, probably "the most contentious issues we deal with," said Margotta, are housing inequities and the challenges they create.
To ensure family housing and single Soldier barracks are the best possible in USAG-HI, two separate objectives have been implemented: a First Sergeant's Barracks Initiative for single Soldiers and the "Chrysalis Project" for families living on post.
The First Sergeant's Barracks Initiative will provide single Soldiers a high-quality barracks living experience, with as many amenities as can be offered, like staying at a Holiday Inn, said Margotta.
"The Chrysalis Project is really focused on enhancing our level of interaction and the services we provide to families that live on post," said Claire Johnston, project director, Army Hawaii Family Housing (AHFH).
"We realize that military families have a choice about where they live," she continued, "and in line with garrison objectives, we will deliver a reliable and consistent level of property management services, while at the same time, being efficient in the way we achieve this."
AHFH is beginning the housing experience with residents - by asking for feedback, conducting interviews and seeking recommendations.
Another possibility for AHFH residents is the "Community Mayor Program."
"AHFH is working closely with the garrison to develop a program that will increase involvement of residents in community matters," said Johnston. "We're partnering with garrison leadership and other Army services to put together a mechanism that will encourage information sharing and increased communication between AHFH and community members."
The garrison currently provides several ways for providers and customers to communicate. Among them are the online Interactive Customer Evaluation program, or ICE, and town hall meetings. However, to enhance the command and community information program, USAG-HI will maximize use of "new" marketing tools like Web logs, called blogs, and social media, such as Facebook and YouTube.
Margotta also hopes to respond to community questions in an online and print column, titled "Ask the Commander." The USAG-HI homepage and many of its links have been completely redesigned, too.
"Just over a year ago, we established a Web Coordinating Council and a tiger team to help make the garrison Web site more customer-oriented and interactive, complete with useful information and easy navigation," said Stephanie Rush, USAG-HI digital media specialist. "The process is ongoing, but we've already added a link for post updates to alert residents and workers of immediate issues."
Similarly, a Community Information Coordinating Council will be established to synchronize all aspects of community information, Margotta said. Also, TV2, the on-post cable access channel, will soon be redesigned and offer relevant, timely programming.
"It's important to listen to the voice of the customer," said Margotta. "These mechanisms will provide more abilities for the community to communicate back to us."
<b>Support for ARFORGEN</b>
Across all garrison lines of operation, supporting the individual Soldier and his or her family is what the garrison is all about - before deployment, during and after, said Margotta.
Several objectives that will enhance this key area include reintegration programs that lessen risky behaviors, like Warrior Adventure Quest, a recreational outlet for Soldiers returning from war; improved support for Reserve Component units; and enhanced training capabilities - all mechanisms that support mission commanders.
Caring for the workforce
"Green suiters have an established system that takes care of them, and we want to mimic these systems for civilians," Margotta said.
Hawaii Garrison University, "Get-A-Cloo" club events for Army civilians living on Oahu, hail and farewell gatherings, the garrison newsletter, and recognition programs have all been developed with the employee in mind.
"It's always a challenge to get people here (in Hawaii), and (these systems) are critical to retaining good employees," Margotta said.
Many other priorities and subareas round out goals and objectives for the next two years: facilities and infrastructure, community well-being, community engagement, sustainability, transformation and organizational effectiveness.
Margotta said the listing is not all-inclusive, and it does not represent everything the garrison will or intends to accomplish. Moreover, in some cases, he added, goals and objectives may be over and above the baseline of services and support required of a garrison.